Today was a day of firsts. GC suggested that we take a trip to explore the city … without the car … on the bus! It might sound silly but if you have ever been to a proper city thick with pedestrians with its lovely lack of parking and did I mention nowhere to park? So he brought up the handy dandy trip planner, one of the coolest things I’ve seen, and we plotted our downtown course. We opted to take the bus (a first for me in this city) and check out the architecturally kick-ass main branch of the Library.

We began our day with a short walk down to the bus stop, an entire tenth of a mile. It was sunny out with a cool breeze, perfect for exploring! We hopped our bus and a few stops down, hopped off for lunch at our neighbourhood place for Chinese. After filling our bellies with Mongolian Chicken and Roasted BBQ Lo Mein, we boarded another bus with our bright pink transfers and headed downtown!

Our journey wound through the Fremont and Queen Anne areas of Seattle. It was interesting to be a passenger for a change. I am usually the driver when we run errands or cruise around. I was the passive viewer as the local colour passed us by and it was keen to not be able to look at things versus defensively driving from point A to point B. I could just sit and observe.

Arriving in downtown, Ms. Magellan emerged from GC’s pocket and pointed us towards our destination. As we walked, GC noticed a hat-filled store front window. I suggested we stop in to window shop and after a few moments of looking, it turned out to be a fantastic place to spend some cashy money!

Byrnie Utz Hats is a true hat store … not one of those that sells baseball caps and cheap-ass hats, we’re talking a good and proper wood cabineted / glass fronted milliner’s shop. The store has been in the same place for over seventy years and in the same family. Another neat thing was that the employees were knowledgeable about each and every hat, I don’t think I heard hesitation in their explanations to any of the patrons inside. After trying on a few hats, GC decided on a Steed-esque dove grey bowler (or Derby as it is called on this side of the Atlantic) and I settled on a bright red angora Kangol Furgora Lahinch because c’mon now, I roll like that. He needs a proper umbrella now and I need to get my hair redone so I can match my new hat! To explain, since my hair is a fadey orange, I opted to take a photo of the hat itself rather than complain about how awful I think my colour is now. Trust me though, I’m wondrously cute in that fuzzy thing. So instead, I snapped a shot of GC in his new snazzy chapeau … c’est trΓ¨s magnifique, no?

I also took a photo of the little fountain in front of the library:

and into the Library we went! It’s been a while since I’ve gushed about architecture. Wait. Have I ever gushed about architecture? I don’t recall. I may have oohed and ahhed … but this place? It merits all manner of the gush! It is breathtaking from entrance to exit and I’d easily contemplate homicide to live here. We walked in and GC pointed down to the multi-lingual floor. Have I shared my secret desire to be a polyglot? I have the time, the resources, the ear for it, but what’s keeping me? Oh yes, that damn laziness. Sheesh. I outta be smacked once really hard. No volunteers please, ’twas simply a rhetorical statement.

Floor.

I want to note that the flooring changed from section to section, and all of it was sound dampening so your footfalls were muffled as you went from aisle to aisle. I kept whispering to him, “Oh yes, I want to live HERE” as we walked around. We walked under a set of stairs to go to the children’s room, glassed in and etched in white with donor names (I think?) but take a look at the groovy lighting under the stairs.

Lighting.

When I turned the corner, I visualised some sort of covert meeting there between people exchanging information. Or perhaps a stolen kiss? Or perhaps two spies kissing? Yes! Heh, I’ll not reveal my romantic leanings to you jaded lot. I don’t want the headache nor the mocking from the peanut gallery.

In the kids’ area alone, there was aisle after aisle of books, in all different languages. On the walls hung brightly coloured art, sure to catch the eye of an inquisitive child or a curious adult, like me! There was a cherry blossom branch that jutted from the wall and the colour scheme of the chairs throughout the entire library was something this girl could totally get behind. Computers on kid-sized desks flanked by groovy fat Mentos-shaped floor pillows. I (heart) this place already!

Sakura.

Paul’s Babe.

Phoenix + a monkey.

Tired library employee.

Goth mentos.

Unwilling subject.

And there’s more kiddies, much much more. Before taking the yellow escalator up, up, UP, GC wanted to show me what he nicknamed would be “my lair.” And there they were, stairs beckoning me to go further – I think they were two, maybe three flights total and I coveted every area in between. At the top of the first flight of stairs, there are halls that circle around to various rooms and offices, patterned glass illuminating light to the other side of a hallway or reading nook, information windows, and more stairs going up. If no one has thought of filming a movie here, they bloody should because it’s cool as hell.

On our journey ever upwards, I paused to look down at the view onto the main floor. You can see through the mesh between glass, the library store and the hodgepodge greenery-inspired carpeting giving way to the real foliage inside. It was a bright day when we went so the entire library was awash in natural lighting and it made me yearn for the days of research while buried under volumes of reference books. Ahh, I’m such the geek!

Once reaching the topmost part available to library patrons, there is a vantage point down. GC paused to marvel at the view:

and then we looked down at the library denizens below.

Vertigo nightmare.

This place with its intentional marriage of the modern with the organic has definitely captured my sense of whimsy. From the green grass carpets to the papier mache artwork in the children’s library to the modern foam chairs to the building corners awash in light and shadow– it all works in a cohesively pleasing way. I was truly in love with all eleven stories, from top to bottom. And the cool thing? When you hit the top of the building, you can opt to take the elevator down (and peek at some more art to pass the time during your wait for the lift or you can choose to walk the spiral down through the stacks. Here at this branch of the library, they have the entire books on continuous shelving that spans four stories. You can follow them up or down without ever having to leave the shelves like in a traditional library – if that makes sense? The Dewey Decimal System classification is marked onto the floor so you can walk along to find where you need to be.

If you want to read more on this fantastic building, check here for a good write-up. It was a nice way to spend some time. Quietly walking softly on floorboards that descend slightly while visually soaking in the colours juxtaposed against the muted tones of sounds that a library usually possesses.

And when we went home, we were dropped a few blocks from the house, it felt finally like being here was what was meant to be. A city with bustle and diversity – cosmopolitan while at the same time individualistic in its satellite neighbourhoods. Walking down our street, it made us link arms and smile because this was our city, our neighbourhood, our street! I tossed my courier bag on the bed so I could change into my usual pajama togs and when I returned from the other room, I saw this …

What a better way to end my day then with sweet belly rubbing! Because ultimately, isn’t that what we all crave deep down inside?

Seeya on the flip side πŸ˜‰
– GermanCityGirl

Currently listening to Strangeways, Here We Come by The Smiths

Meal: Late night sushi run to Ha Roo.

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